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Incidents of drinks being spiked is an ever-growing concern not only in Northern Ireland, but the entire UK of late, with police forces seeing a surge of cases being reported. 120 cases of drink spiking have been reported to the PSNI this year so far, with announcements on 6th November that four new spiking related incidents are currently being investigated after being reported the previous night. With case numbers rising at an alarming rate, we take a look at tips for not only prevention, but symptoms to look out for if you think you or somebody else may have been spiked. 

What is drink spiking? 

Spiking is when something is added to a person’s drink to make them more vulnerable for a number of motives, including theft or sexual assault. Different substances can be used in spiking such as alcohol, illegal drugs and prescription drugs such as sedatives, tranquillizers and opiates to name a few. Spiking can happen to any drink whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic, and whilst the effects can be unpredictable, they’re likely to be more serious if the victim has already consumed more alcohol or other drugs as well. 

Symptoms of drink spiking  

The effects of drink spiking can vary depending on what the victim has been spiked with, dosage, size and weight etc.  Common symptoms can include:  

  • Lowered inhibitions 
  • Loss of balance 
  • Feeling sleepy 
  • Visual problems 
  • Confusion 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Unconsciousness 
  • Memory loss 

If you or somebody you’re with starts to feel strange or more drunk than you should be, then seek help straight away. 

How to avoid drink spiking  

Ensuring all venues are safe from assault and harassment such as drink spiking is a collective responsibility and all venues that are licensed to sell alcohol have a legal duty for public safety and the prevention of crime and disorder on their premises, which is monitored by their local authority. These licenses to sell alcohol usually have conditions to ensure venues have appropriate staff training and security in place, however, drink spiking can happen in any situation whether at home or on a night out, so here are a few ways to protect yourself:  

  • Never leave your drink unattended  
  • Use drink stoppers for the top of your bottle – Amazon have a selection of different types have a look here
  • Don’t accept a drink from somebody you don’t know 
  • Stick together with friends and look out for each other 
  • Avoid drinking too much by sticking to the UK low risk drinking guidelines 

How to help somebody who you think has been spiked 

If you think somebody is showing symptoms of having their drink spiked, here are a few things you can do to help: 

  • Tell a bar manager, bouncer or member of staff 
  • Stay with them and keep talking to them  
  • Call an ambulance if their condition deteriorates 
  • Don’t let them go home on their own 
  • Don’t let them drink more alcohol  
  • Don’t let them leave with someone you don’t know or trust  

If you or somebody you know feels that they may have been a victim of spiking, then please contact your local PSNI to report the matter. For more information or advice on prevention of drink spiking, you can visit www.drinkaware.co.uk